I’ve been in New Zealand for just over two months now, and I’ll just tell you about the coolest stuff I’ve done so far.
Vanessa took me down to Rotorua, Whakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao, (yes, really) one of the first weekend with her. I witnessed a beautiful Maori dance and singing concert, which I didn’t photograph cause I was too blown away in the moment to acknowledge my phone sitting in my pocket. They also had mini live kiwi birds, which you could see in the dark. The geysers were very impressive, and as the sun was setting the smoke turned a very pretty yellow/orange colour.
Some weekend after that, Rotarian Daryl Owen invited me to come to Whakatane and go horseriding with her and the exchange inbound Edu Mello. I am used to do dressage back in the Netherlands, and Daryl introduced me to the wonders of endurance! Even though both sports involve sitting on a horseback, they are quite different. When you’re not trained, endurance is mainly about enduring the pain, haha. On Saturday we went for a small ride in the hills, to test whether I was as skilled as I claimed to be. Don’t worry, I passed the test J. On Sunday Daryl took us down to the beach to do a “short” 20km ride.

After riding on Sunday morning Edu and I met up with the Austrian inbound living in Whakatane, Magdalena. She brought us to Ohope beach, which was absolutely stunning. A shame it was too cold to swim.
I’ve been up Mount Maunganui a few times now, with different people. Here’s a picture of me on the top of the Mount, and after that we went to get an icecream across the road. 
A few weekends ago Vanessa and Larry were kind enough to take me up to Auckland, for the birthday of their son! On Saturday we went and walked along the waterside, explored the shopping streets and went out for dinner after. This was followed by a visit to the sky tower at night, which was absolutely stunning!
Sunday morning we went out for breakfast on One Tree Hill (spoiler: there’s more than one tree), went up the hill and ended up going back home after.
On the way we stopped for a quick pic in Paeroa.
The weekend after, I went down to Whakatane with Edu again, this time to do the same thing I’d done before, but now twice. This was my first 40km, which was really exciting! I woke up with aching muscles on Sunday morning, but that didn’t stop Edu and I from going up the Mount twice that day.
And last weekend I had my first official Rotary weekend! The Mission Bay weekend in Taupo brought together the inbounds from our district and the prebounds (soon to be outbounds). On Saturday we went for a small hike in the mountains, then went up to the snowline and finished the day at the hot pools. On Sunday we got loads of information, including stuff about the South Island tour, something we’re all very excited about and looking forward to.
Pictures of Courtney van der Horst and I are in the photo album on the front page. Courtney will go the Netherlands in January! Other photos from the Mission Bay weekend there too.
There's also a few pictures below of the week that i spent in Hahei with Edu and John. We went up there on Monday, spent three nights there and went back on Thursday. John, who was also the driver, brought his two ocean kayaks for us to kayak in. Tuesday we kayaked to Cathedral Cove, Wednesday we kayaked around a big island and hiked to Cathedral Cove and on Thursday morning Edu and I went on an early morning hike in the forest that was planted for the fallen soldiers during the 2nd world war, and ended up going to Cathedral Cove again 😊. This far, the days I spent in Hahei were one of the best of my exchange!